01/10/18 — Basketball --Is Goldsboro's Tyzhaun Claude the area's best hooper?

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Basketball --Is Goldsboro's Tyzhaun Claude the area's best hooper?

By Justin Hayes
Published in Sports on January 10, 2018 5:53 AM

In social media terms, Tyzhaun Claude is trending.

One could have easily gathered as much by watching the 6-foot-6 forward last month at the University of Mount Olive, where he controlled any and all manner of play during Goldsboro High's three-day run to its second FCA Winter Classic title in as many seasons,  earning Most Valuable Player honors in the process.  

At every turn, Claude's play was economical and involved -- make that highly involved.

During Goldsboro's opener, a triple overtime, panic attack-inspired tilt versus Wayne Christian, the senior dominated the interior on both ends of the floor, finishing the night with 38 points and 13 rebounds.

In a second-round matchup with South Lenoir --  a gasless, limited-throttle open run less than 24 hours removed from the marathon -- he again factored prominently, registering 17 points and hauling in seven caroms.

But it was against Coastal Christian in the championship bout --  where Claude's mettle and meddling, for that matter -- appeared in peak form.

Following an opening quarter where the Centurions' guard-heavy rotation made shot after shot in a wide-open half-court, No. 12 buoyed the GHS defensive effort, using his length to bother shots and further, to locate his own offense.

Over the final two stanzas, Claude was simply dominant,  scoring 15 points on a variety of twisting baskets in traffic and limiting Coastal Christian forward Michael Parker --  also a first-team all tournament selection --  to just five field goals on the night.

And no, the effort didn't go unnoticed by his head coach.  

"I thought he had a really good tournament -- a really good tournament," GHS head coach Russell Stephens said of his star. "Offensively and defensively, I think his energy level was up all three games... couple of things he can improve on, and he knows that, but all in all a great tournament."

And if Goldsboro is to successfully navigate the early portion of its East Central 2A conference schedule -- which begins this evening on the road at multi-dimensional Clinton -- No. 12 will likely have to continue his early-season form.

Consider the following:

On seven different occasions this season, Claude has entered double-double territory, and not by the slimmest of working margins.

Against Southern Wayne on Nov. 22, he went for 15 points and 11 boards; versus Aycock nine days later, he finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds.

And that's not to mention his waltz down New Hope Lane on Dec. 8, when he bobbed and weaved his way to 18 points and 12 window treatments. 

Coupled with the aforementioned FCA barnstorming, and he's trending -- if not helping to redefine a longstanding Cougar hoops tradition. 

Goldsboro, known for years by most opponents as a running, helter-skelter outfit, has at times dialed the chaos back this season, operating with poised zone pressure looks up the floor and a mixed bag of rangy, hard-to-define schemes in the half-court.

Call it a lifestyle change on the hardwood.

Call it 32 minutes of guesswork.

Call it working with the pieces you have, especially if one of them is Tyzhuan Claude -- perhaps the  most versatile baller in all of Wayne County.